Religion and Culture

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Religion and Culture

General Description

rc_buttonReligion and Culture focuses on the critical study of culture with specific attention to the position of religion within modernity. The field explores a variety of philosophical and cultural themes arising from modern discourses on religion, including academic discourses. The theoretical basis of Religion and Culture is informed not only by the Western philosophical tradition but also by a broader range of intellectual traditions, incorporating the perspectives of ethnography, critical theory, and contemporary cultural criticism.

All students in Religion and Culture are expected to become well-grounded in modern Western intellectual and cultural history since the seventeenth century, including the major traditions of modern scholarly engagement with religion as well as the critical reactions to these traditions. Building on this foundation, each student designs and carries out focused study in a specific discursive tradition or a particular empirical moment of cultural practice. Students specialize in such areas as the ethnographic study of religion, religion in American law and politics, Jewish studies, religion and gender, and modern Western religious thought.


RELI 720, Critical Lineages in Religion and Culture, is required of all Religion and Culture students. Additional coursework should be selected through close and regular consultation with the student’s faculty advisor.



Each student is required to be competent in two modern research languages. These languages are commonly French and German, through other research languages can be substituted with the approval of the faculty in the field and the student’s advisor if appropriate for the student’s specific area of research.


Doctoral Examinations

At the doctoral level, the student’s competency in the following areas will be examined through the Doctoral Examinations:

  1. Western intellectual and cultural history since 1600. This examination includes basic issues in the philosophy of religion, theory and method in the study of religion, and contemporary critical theory. The purpose of the exam is to situate the field of Religion and Culture in its historical and intellectual context.
  2. Area of specialization. This examination focuses on major scholarly literature specific to the student’s specific field of study
  3. Cultural theory. This examination focuses on methodological and theoretical issues in an area of cultural theory relevant to the student’s scholarly work, such as literary theory, cultural studies, ethnographic theory, postcolonial studies, or gender theory.
  4. Dissertation examination. This exam covers historical and critical literature specific to the student’s area of dissertation research.



Core Faculty

Associated Faculty

Affiliated Faculty


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